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New On Home Video: May 4, 2004

Usually Updated Each Monday Evening
by Randy Muselman

Today has been absolutely glorious! The sun was shining, the birds were singing. Even the wind is blowing making for a nice cool breeze. Man it just doesn't get any better than this! Unless you don't like that kind of thing and would prefer to stay at home, shove a shiny little disc in the old DVD player and mash away at buttons on the remote control. If that's the case, then this is the place for you.

We'll kick off today with a box office hit. The Last Samurai was well received by our EFC/HBS staffers, and I must agree. I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. I did not see this film at the theater; thus, when it arrived on home video I shoved it into the DVD player with some trepidation. My fears were quickly put to rest as I think this is one of the best films I have seen in quite some time.

I do however like just about anything to do with Japan, especially old Japan and the Samurai warriors. Perhaps that puts me in a bit of a spot, perhaps being somewhat jaded toward this film. But trying to speak honestly, go and BUY THIS DVD! This film was in my humble opinion well put together, and Ken Watanabe truly deserved the nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.

While Tom Cruise turns in a very credible performance, I simply feel that Ken Watanabe set a higher standard that Cruise just couldn't measure up to. I found myself simply engrossed in this film. The more it played out, the more I wanted to see things develop as they did (nope, won't spoil it for you). I think you will be somewhat surprised by the ending of this film. I know I was. I expected a different outcome, but still wanted more when the film was over. I would very much like to have seen more of Watanabe on the screen, and more of his character developed than it was. This is a true buy gang, get it right here.

Complete staff reviews of The Last Samurai can be found by clicking here.

While we started with a box office hit, we now turn to a box office bomb. Yet again, an old classic has been re-visited and without any success at all. Peter Pan was handed a healthy budget of 100 million dollars, and didn't even break half of that at the box office. Taking in a scant 48 million at the box office as of March 26, 2004, Columbia Pictures will have to pray that home video sales and rentals will help to make up for their loss. Numbers are here in the U.S. only, we'll have to see how world wide release plays out.

I'm sure you are quite familiar with the storyline. Peter Pan takes the Darling children to Neverland, where you don't have to grow up, and are free of grown-up rules. But at the same time, they must battle the evil Captain Hook (Jason Isaacs). The CGI effects are quite well done. I don't think I've ever seen Tink more playful or look as good (well as good as a fairy can look). But somehow, for me, this film just didn't compete with the 1991 version of Hook.

Complete staff reviews of Peter Pan (2003) can be found here. Click HERE if you'd like to add this version of the classic fairy tale to your library.

Also making its debut on home video this week is Calendar Girls. I found this to be a very entertaining film. Then again, I'm going to be 45 very shortly and this film is most definitely going to appeal to those in my age group, or those a little older. Teens most likely won't like this film because yes, there are brief moments of bare breasts of older women. I can hear the kids going "Ewwwwwwww" even as I type away.

The entire premise of the film (in a nutshell) is that funds are needed to purchase a couch for a waiting room at a local hospital. How this comes about, I'll not say, because I don't want to ruin the film. Needless to say, a group of women, belonging to a local women's organization get the idea that if they do a calendar, one that will surely get attention, they can raise the money to make the purchase. Yes, there are older women baring it all. However, it's done very tastefully, and you don't really SEE anything. You have to look beyond that aspect of the film and look at the overall story.

This film is based on an event that actually happened in the UK, and I myself found it a very entertaining film. Give it a chance, you'll truly enjoy it. Complete staff reviews are right here. Purchase this title by CLICKING HERE.

There are several films that I did not have time to screen this week, therefore, I shall rely on the expertise of our staff members to give you some ideas of what you can expect from the following titles. As always, you know our staffers pull no punches. They call them as they see them, so rely fully on their words of wisdom.

Chasing Liberty arrives this week on home video as well, and it truly looks like a film targeted for the girls in the 14 year old bracket. As mentioned, I did not have time to view this film, but, EFC/HBS staffers for the most part simply didn't much care for this title. It appears that the general public didn't care much as well as box office income couldn't top more than a tad over 12 million dollars. Not bad, but, this film was handed 23 million for a budget.

Collin Souter says of Chasing Liberty:

Movies like this can be frustrating in that one wishes they would either be better or worse. “Just please arouse something in me! Make me sit up and take notice! Make me angry! Just do something!” One likes to come out of a movie remembering something substantial once they bust open the exit doors and throw away their pretzel poppers. That doesn’t happen here. More likely, you’ll walk out staring at the marquees above every other theater door wondering if maybe you should have made a wiser choice. But even that part of the experience won’t stay with you because you’ll soon be back in the freezing cold trying to remember where you parked your car. At that point, “Chasing Liberty” will feel like a distant dream.


However, if you like this film, you can save yourself some time and buy it right here.

The next couple of films on our list I think will find a niche market. These are films I personally do not think will appeal to a large audience here in the U.S., but, I could be wrong. One being animated and nominated for Best Animated Feature.

The Triplets Of Belleville finds high praise from our staffers, and received many honors, also picking up Oscar nominations for Best Music and Original Song.

Eric Snider says of this film:

Animation was invented so that movies like "The Triplets of Belleville" could be made. It's a perfect blend of outrageous visual humor, lovable caricatures and imaginative storytelling. There is practically no dialogue, but the story comes through as distinctly as if there had been reams of it. It's the first movie in a long time that I wanted to watch again immediately as soon as it was over.

And we all know Eric has very discriminating taste. In other words, he knows his business. Full staff reviews of this film can be found here or, you can purchase this title by clicking HERE.

The next title on our list, Elephant, I know absolutely nothing about. This film did however take high honors at the Cannes Film Festival and received notice at several other festivals. Our staff reviews were somewhat mixed, but, if you are a regular at our site, you most likely have your own staff member you prefer to read, so take their word, they know the business.

The Ultimate Dancing Machine says of Elephant:

Gus Van Sant's latest took Best Film and Best Director honors at this year's much-maligned Cannes festival, and I've heard some mumblings that ELEPHANT got the big prizes only due to a dearth of competition. Well, I'm here to dispel the rumors; this is a strong, uncompromising, oddly beautiful film that deserves its laurels. (more)

If Elephant is your type of film, then grab it right here.

Have you ever settled in to watch a film, and truly get involved in it, only to find that someone, or something pops up and you are forced to give up watching what you think is playing out to be a film well worth your time? Seems that always happens to me. I had just popped Girl With A Pearl Earring into the DVD player, and the interruptions began. From what I can tell you, I enjoyed what I had a chance to see. The story was just getting interesting when things went to hell.

Marigold says of Girl With A Pearl Earring:

Peter Webber's Girl With A Pearl Earring is absolutely gorgeous to look at. It will make art lovers and fans of the book very happy. If you aren't one of these people, however, you might want to stay home. You may find this film a tad slow and confusing. On the other hand, if you appreciate an intense story of forbidden love...come on down!

I will find time to finish this film, I assure you. I think it will be well worth owning.

Now we come to the part where we show you other films hitting home video this week. Take a chance to read on, I think you'll like what you find.

A Night At The Opera (1935) Buy It
Noises Off (1992) Buy It
The Incredibly True Adventures Of Two Girls In Love (1995) Buy It
Missing Gun (aka Xun Qiang (2002)
Manic Buy It
A Night In Casablanca (1946) Buy It
A Day At The Races (1937) buy It
Desk Set (1957) buy It
Go West (1940) Buy It
At The Circus (1939) Buy It
Battleground (1949) Buy It
Torch Song Trilogy (1988) buy It
Loverboy (1989) Buy It
Room Service (1938) Buy It
Herbie Rides Again (1974) Buy It
The Big Green (1995) Buy It
Love! Valour! Compassion! (1997) Buy It
Herbie Goes Bananas (1980) Buy It
Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo (1977) Buy It
Flying Leathernecks (1951) Buy It
Back to Bataan (1945) Buy It
Three of Hearts (1993) Buy It
Briar Patch (2001)
The Big Store (1941) Buy It
Bloodhounds of Broadway (1989) Buy It
Evicted (2000) Buy It
The Time of Their Lives (1946)
Tomorrow (1972) Buy It
The Strongest Man in the World (1975) Buy It
The Naughty Nineties (1945)
Hit the Ice (1943)
Now You See Him, Now You Don't (1972) Buy It

Looking over some TV series that are hitting home video this week, we have several titles that include:

Monarch Of The Glen: The Complete Series 2
The Osbournes: The 2 1/2
Party of Five: The Complete First Season
Samurai Jack: Season 1
Three's Company: Season Two
The Bernie Mac Show: Season 1
Gilmore Girls: The Complete First Season

Checking out what you good folks have been renting around the country (United States), we find the following:

(source: IMDB Pro)

1 Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003)
2 Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)
3 Cheaper by the Dozen (2003)
4 The Matrix Revolutions (2003)
5 The Haunted Mansion (2003)
6 Timeline (2003)
7 Something's Gotta Give (2003)
8 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
9 Gothika (2003)
10 Win a Date with Tad Hamilton! (2004)


And that wraps it up for another week of what's new on home video. I hope you find this information useful. You can also check out the Upcoming DVD Release Schedule or our latest addition of The DVD Shopping Planner (May 2004).

With all of this information, where else on earth would you ever want to go? I'll see you next week, until then, take care and enjoy a movie.


link directly to this feature at http://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=1108
originally posted: 05/04/04 11:23:53
last updated: 05/04/04 12:10:41
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